It’s the last day of 2014 and Chef Rick has just finished checking out the restaurant before our winter break. The chefs and cooks are tired but satisfied. They changed the Xoco menu every month with a menu inspired by either a region of Mexico or point of Mexican culture. The special dishes of 2014 were revelatory, creative and delicious. The changing menu came into focus on our new website and through social media: the kitchen’s efforts were a huge driver of business and continued excitement for our restaurant.
The servers are tired but happy. They feel invested in Xoco and proud of their roles in the Xoco experience. Half the PM servers celebrated their first year anniversary. They were rough around the edges in January 2014 and have become polished gems by December 2014. The year-long schedule of menu tasting, testing, and topics of learning have improved their knowledge of what we do, from the sustainability side to the rich cultural history of our cuisine’s origins, to the beer and spirits program, and most importantly, service and teamwork. We have gelled as a proud, knowledgeable and enthusiastic team.
The upper level management team is proud that Xoco had its 2nd consecutive year of growth. They are happy to let the team take the credit but the genesis of many big ideas from catering packages to one-off special events was with them. They supported the effort to make the web ordering system compatible on mobile, and backed it up with localized marketing. The new website presented glimpses of the Xoco experience so well that it was irresistible. These game changers added to the bottom line over the whole year.
Xoco Dos is open and having great success in Wicker Park: solving problems for the opening helped us improve Xoco River North. We used our increased buying power to negotiate a lower price for logo-marked to-go supplies. The Xoco logo now graces all of our plastic cups from agua fresca to salsa, yet we are saving money. While Xoco Wicker Park opens and stays open later, at River North we found the heart of the business is midday. We started selling tortas before 11AM to meet the demand and that added thousands in sales each week.
I am excited for my third year of Xoco management. In year 2 I have given my all to be a good partner for the chefs, to better educate the Xoco servers, to introduce new ideas and make Xoco a positive environment for guests and the staff alike. I have lost track because there were so many things that I know have been important to our big 2014. I hosted food tours the entire year, brought in local breweries for special events, created media that was picked up virally… most important, I was there to serve the staff, to educate, to listen, to problem solve and to be present for every service.
-rough draft of my Xoco vision for 2014